Authors: Cathriona Cahill and Cora Plant
Summary: EPA Research Report 217 on the Beneficial Use of Old Landfills as a Parkland Amenity
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The desk study research project was commissioned by the EPA in response to the number of landfills that are closed or near closure and are awaiting final restoration. The conversion of suitable closed landfills to parkland amenities presents an opportunity to make beneficial use of land that would have previously been considered sterile from social, environmental and economic perspectives. A number of these landfills that could provide a parkland amenity post closure are located in areas either under strong urban influence or adjacent to designated conservation areas [i.e. Natura 2000 sites (SACs, SPAs), Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs)]. Historically, in many instances, landfills were located adjacent to such designated conservation areas prior to recognition of the area’s environmental importance and before legislation to protect such areas had been enacted. In addition to these situations, development within urban areas has expanded outwards in recent years and, as a result, many historical landfills that were once remote are now in close proximity to the urban environment.
There is no policy that prescribes the afteruse that should be applied to closed landfills. Much valuable information on the beneficial use of landfill sites is contained within the EPA’s Landfill Manual – Restoration and Aftercare (EPA, 1999), which provides guidance on all aspects of landfill restoration and aftercare to afteruses such as amenity and nature conservation. This research project identifies that there is a need for the development of national policy to promote the reuse of former landfills as valuable areas. This could include the requirement for planning departments to consider all old landfills in association with options for parkland/green spaces or consideration of the beneficial use of former landfill sites in the regional waste plans.
This research highlights that landfill master plans for conversion to a parkland amenity will need to consider a range of factors, including the long-term aftercare and maintenance requirements for the parkland and landfill, planning policy and stakeholder input. Local authorities and organisations considering converting their landfill to a parkland amenity should first evaluate the setting of the landfill and complete a risk assessment for the site (or review a completed risk assessment if available). The lack of available and necessary funding appears to be the main impediment to the conversion to parkland amenity. Therefore, there is a need to examine the funding options for the parkland development, e.g. tax relief on expenditure made for the parkland development could be one option. There is also a need to address the potential social, environmental and economic benefits of landfill afteruse as part of the Closure, Restoration, Aftercare Management Plans.https://www.epa.ie/media/epa-2020/publications/research/EPA-RR-217_20mm.jpg